Five key leadership principles that are not 2015 trends, but timeless imperatives

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on January 5, 2015

Every January, thought leaders write about “new trends” for the coming year. It was suggested that I do the same in the area of leadership. What I want to write about, however, are not trends. They are timeless leadership imperatives that are characteristic of all high-performing organizations. We all should remember these as we start 2015.

Communicate the vision, mission and goals for the organization

Your employees can’t help fulfill the vision and achieve the mission and goals of the organization unless they know what they are. Communicate these to them, and why they were chosen. Work to gain buy-in from your employees to make them shared vision/mission/goals. If 2015 is the year to re-write the vision/mission statements, involve employees at various levels within the organization. Set joint goals with your direct reports, so they have ownership in them. Periodically update employees on the progress of the journey to achieve the organization’s vision/mission/goals.

Let your employees know what their role is on this journey. As CEO of my company, I once told an operating division of a mature business that their role is to generate cash flow that could be invested in high-growth businesses in other parts of the company. I also told them that they needed to continue their successful efforts on continuous improvement, and they would continue to receive capital for process improvement projects that had an attractive return on investment. These employees shared with me that it was the first time that they were ever told what their role is in the company’s growth. They embraced their role and fulfilled their job as a cash generator with newfound dedication.

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